Why Students Should Track Service Hours

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

When you demonstrate how much time you put into something, you show how much of yourself you are willing to give for it.  Tracking hours is the simplest, most efficient, and most accessible way to demonstrate your community engagement and show what is important to you.  Hour tracking is a valuable tool for any volunteer because it allows you to keep a record of your progress and hard work.

Particularly for students, hour tracking helps display your volunteerism for college admissions, scholarships, grants, and leadership opportunities.  For students with packed schedules, keeping track of these hours is the easiest way to prevent leaving out your accomplishments on applications.  Additionally, having more hours to show will help you stand out among other applicants, as well as help provide inspiration and substance for application essays. By taking a few minutes to enter each activity, you save yourself time and stress in the long run, as trying to remember and count all your volunteer work after several years is difficult.  Using tools like NobleHour saves you the trouble of having to go through school records or forms to verify your volunteer work.  Once you track your hours online, they are saved and you can share them at anytime.

"There are some hours that I didn’t log, but I did keep track of a lot of them because it made me feel happy for helping out and seeing how much I’ve contributed. I think [tracking hours] is pretty valuable because it allows you to see how much you’re doing, encourage you to work for more, and just be able to be organized about what you are doing.  It’s cool because you can see what you’ve contributed to what area.  For example, I’ve done a lot of service work at nursing homes and with the elderly, but not as much with the youth.  The hour tracking allows me to get a full grasp of that," said Tiffany, a senior at Grimsley High School. Tiffany enjoys volunteering and has tracked 293 hours in the past three years.

Altruistic volunteers may see tracking hours as a mere vanity.  However, this certainly is not the case. For civically engaged young people, service is done to the beating of their hearts not to the ticking of a stopwatch.  Fear that their natural compulsion to serve may be masked by numbers leads some students to feel that counting their service hours cheapens the work they have done.  However, tracking volunteer hours is not egotistic or selfish.  It is simply another way of showing your dedication and commitment to a particular cause or to volunteerism in general.  Sometimes seeing the amount of time put into a cause helps you reflect on why it was important to get involved, who benefited from the time you gave, what you learned from your hours of experience, and why you will continue to serve.  Showing how much time you have put into your community also shows your passion for service, and helps the organization you work with understand its impact.  

"I am not keeping track of hours for a reward.  I just like to see what areas I have done a lot of work in and areas I could work to improve my community more.  I think tracking hours could definitely be something that people do for an award, but personally, I am able to not think about that.  I’ve received certificates thanking me for service, but hour tracking doesn’t affect meaning.  It allows you to visualize.  It’s truly not about how many hours you do, but how you use them and the difference you make.  I just see the hours tracking as a tool for organization," Tiffany said.

Though you may not feel that you will need to keep track of your hours, you never know down the road when you will need a record of the work you have done.  Even if you have already completed the required number of hours for school or awards, it helps to continue the practice of tracking hours because it shows how you have grown through helping your community and how you continue to pledge your time to others.  Having a holistic record of your volunteer hours attests to your leadership abilities, your investment in the community, and the value of your time and energy. 

Keeping records of volunteer hours allows students to manage their time and reflect on the lessons they have learned from volunteering.  It also keeps students accountable by safeguarding records and verification of the hours completed.  Start tracking your Noble Impact ™ today.

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community engagement, college admissions